Get a Tune Up: the Ins and Outs

People are supposed to go to their doctor for a checkup once a year, a dentist once to twice a year, and depending on your health, chiropractors, dermatologists, and others are needed at decent intervals as well. Your vehicles are no different! The only thing that changes is that instead of years, they use miles to measure between checkups. There are multiple terms used in the automotive world for one of these wellness checkups. Sometimes it’ll be called an automotive checkup, doing preventative maintenance, or the most widely used term: a tune up. 

Depending on the age of your vehicle the time intervals change. An older vehicle should get them more often than a newer one. For example: if you have a 1967 Mustang, on average you should get a tune up every 10,000 miles or so. If you have a 2012 Subaru STI, you’d be safe going at 40,000 to 50,000 miles. This comes from what parts are being used, how they’re made, how each part works together, vehicle specifications, etc. To be safe, if your car is fuel injected, you can usually bring it in between 30,000 and 40,000 miles. 

What is a Tune Up?

A tune up is a process where common wear items on your car are checked and replaced if need be. This list can be longer or shorter depending on your vehicle, since a carbureted car works differently than a new turbo diesel. Here is a list of some of the most common things that will be checked/replaced in a tune up:

  • Spark plugs/glow plugs: These cause (or in the case of glow plugs: help begin) the ignition in your motor, and will wear out over time. Replacing them will help keep a clean and complete burn in your engine.
  • Car fluids: Your car has about 9 common types of fluids. Coolant, engine oil, differential fluid, wiper fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, AC refrigerant. Each one has proper levels, and service intervals, so having them checked during your tune up is a great preventative measure.
  • Filters: The 3 most common filters in a car are the intake filter, oil filter, and the cabin filter. While oil filters are usually checked/replaced regularly, the intake filter and cabin filters often get ignored. The intake filter will drastically impact performance, and the cabin filter will change how dusty / pure the air in your car is. If there’s a lingering scent, odds are that the filter needs to be replaced.
  • Belts/hoses: Anything rubber is consumable for your car. There’s a life for your belts because they stretch/warp and hoses can crack or disintegrate. Any of these things will become a big deal down the line if you don’t get them fixed.
  • Brakes: everything from the brake hoses, to the calipers, rotors, and pads will need to be replaced over time. 

How Much Does a Tune Up Cost?

This depends entirely on the type of vehicle in question, and if it has any performance parts on it. Spark plugs for instance have many different grades to them, from a single terminal copper plug to a double iridium quad-tip plug. And all of them cost different amounts. It’s like this with any components on a car. A good rule of thumb is that usually your tune up costs will reflect your vehicle price. If you own an expensive car, tune ups will be spendy, if you own a cheaper older car, it’s going to be cheaper. 

Also, when they go through and check your vehicle out, some of the standard maintenance things may not need replacing, which will certainly lower the cost. Often on cars from the ’90s and early 2000s for instance, you may need to replace the spark plugs, plug wires, and the coil packs (these distribute the electricity to the different plugs evenly and at the right voltage). Now replacing only the plugs is going to be much cheaper than replacing all of it. Sometimes by a few hundred dollars!

How Long Does a Tune Up Take?

Once again this will change vastly depending on what kind of car, and what actually needs to be replaced. If it is only a very basic service, it could be less than 30 minutes, but an all-inclusive service on a complicated vehicle, it could be an all-day process. 

An example of this is that most v8 motors have the spark plugs easily accessible, so you would pull off your ignition cable or coil plug, then can immediately pull the spark plug out with your favorite socket wrench. However, if it’s on a Porsche Cayman for instance, often the vehicle has to be jacked up, rear wheels removed, a wheel liner removed, then cable removed from the coil plug, and finally the spark plug can be taken care of. 

Tune Up: Final Thoughts

Vehicles can be anything from a business car that gets you to and from work, a working tractor that your livelihood is based on, or even your racing hobby car. But no matter the need or want for performance a properly running vehicle is the desire, and a tuneup is the best way to get it there and keep it there. Without maintenance, any form of machinery will start to deteriorate. Cars, trucks, and other working vehicles fight the elements every year and can be put through a lot to get you where you need to go. It’s far better to deal with maintenance when it’s small, and routine rather than a large project that will take far longer and more expensive. 

If you’re in Portland, Oregon, and looking for a reliable mechanic, schedule a service with us here. We look forward to helping you!